Throughout his career as a beekeeper, Les has always looked for ways to eliminate toxic inputs in the hive, starting with antibiotics and now miticides. He has been keeping bees in Langstroth and Top-Bar Hives for about 50 years, both as a hobby and as a business Earlier in his career, he worked for a business with 4,000 hives in New MexicoHe was the President of New Mexico beekeepers association multiple times. He was a honeybee inspector in New Mexico for 5 years. He has been teaching highly popular beekeeping classes domestically and abroad for over 35 years (both in English and Spanish)
Les has a degree in biology from the University of New Mexico. He wrote “Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health”, a very popular book which has sold and continues to be sold all over the world
THE BUSY BEES
Beefore introducing ourselves, did you know that May 20th is World Bee Day?
Trivia 1: Charles Dadant, a famous French-American beekeeper, the inventor of the Dadant beehive, and one of the founding fathers of modern beekeeping, was born on May 20th.
Triva 2: That day is also the celebrated birthdate of Anton Janša from Slovenia, the first teacher of modern beekeeping, and the reason we now celebrate World Bee Day on May 20th: he was so talented that Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa appointed him headmaster at the world’s first beekeeping school.
How serendipitous then that, as a teacher of beekeeping classes, my own birthday is also May 20th, World Bee Day, after the first teacher of modern beekeeping?
Maybe it was meant to" bee": I have been keeping bees naturally, and sustainably, without the use of chemicals and treatments in the hive, since 2013, as trained by Les Crowder, Natural Beekeeping guru and author of world renowned "Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health". I fell in love with honey bees when I was 8 years old, after writing a report on them and discovering how fascinating they were. When I started with my first colony many years later, I knew I wanted to provide my bees with a good environment, low on stress and toxic contaminants, which allows me to keep my bees healthier and minimize the amount of pesticides in my wax and honey. Today, I only harvest surplus honey instead of feeding my bees sugar syrup, and handle my bees with utter respect and as mindfully as I can. I am not here to rob them from their precious resources to make a profit: I only want to learn from them, and only use what they no longer use or have a clear surplus of.
A teacher at heart, my goal is to bring awareness of how important honey bees and native bees are to the public and most specifically the young generations, as well as teach natural and sustainable beekeeping to all for healthier bees (and the nice benefit of having access to raw, unadulterated, local honey!).
I take my craft and taking the best possible care of my bees very seriously, and I make sure to continue learning as much as I can, so that I can apply and teach adults and children best practices in beekeeping. As the Director and Main Teacher at Live In French, LLC, a consulting firm that teaches French Conversation to Aduts, Corporations and Children, as well as Training Program Designer and Educator for large corporations in a previous life, I love teaching and to share my knowledge of and passion for beekeeping in the most efficient and professional, yet friendly way. And I can totally teach in French or Spanish as well :-)
Recently, I have had the great honor and privilege to welcome my dearest friend and world renowned beekeeping expert Les Crowder to join me in this ambitious effort, and together I hope that, with your help, we can change make the world a better place for humans and bees, one hive at a time!
Horizontal Top-Bar Hives
We prefer using horizontal Top-Bar Hives for a more natural approach and so the bees have plenty of natural comb to grow onto. As a nice side benefit, they are easy to work for people of all ages and physical ability, which makes them a great tool to keep bees mindfully. Nothing heavy to lift, no bulky equipment to store, less complexity and less stress for the bees makes for happier bees and happier beekeepers.
A horizontal top-bar hive is a single-story, frameless beehive in which the natural comb hangs directly from removable bars and the bars form a continuous roof over the comb. Top-bar hives usually include one box only, and allow for beekeeping methods that interfere very little with the colony.
These have been around for amost 60 years and are great for backyard beekeepers.
Vertical Langstroth Hives
We also use modern Langstroth Hives, mostly for rescues and teaching purposes. We prefer to use no foundation with these, for a more natural environment for the bees, but will use foundation for teaching purposes.
A Langstroth hive is a vertically modular beehive that has vertically hung frames, a bottom board with entrance for the bees, boxes containing frames for brood and honey, and an inner cover and top cap to provide weather protection. This type of hive was first patented in 1852.
We also have a couple of Warré Hives for education purposes and for a most natural approach to beekeeping. Invented in 1948 as the People's Hive by Mr. Warré. The goal was to create a hive that was as close to the natural conditions for the bees while remaining practical for the beekeeper. It was also designed to be built economically by anyone with simple tools It features top bars and natural comb in a thicker, better insulated vertical configuration of boxes with a quilt box and special roof for maximum insulation, reproducing as much as possible what happens in a tree log.
We are bringing Long Langstroth Hives, Layens hives and Flow-Hives to our apiaries, again for comparison and education purposes. Stay tuned!
Planting native trees, shrubs and wildflowers and avoiding the use of pesticides and fungicides on all our plants and crops are two critical components of how everyone can help our bees today. We are doing our part at the honey farm by planting for nutrition and extended foraging season, as well as transforming the land into a wildlife refuge with the help of the State of Texas guidelines.